Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pontus Lidberg - The Rain

Trailer for the 28-minute film The Rain, by Pontus Lidberg.

The programme 4 Dance 2008 included 2 extracts from that film, and I really liked it. Quite a nice surprise to find out there is more to see! Website for the movie here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dance in 2009

Two UK newspapers are looking forward to the year ahead and list what to look out for in 2009. Amongst the many artforms presented is dance.

Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant's new collaboration Eonaggata seem to be what they most look forward to. Check out the Times and the Guardian.

Am particularly interested in this news from the Times that Sadler's Wells (London's dance house) has commissioned works from Maliphant, Wayne McGregor, Javier De Frutos and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui that 'encapsulate the spirit of Diaghilev' who founded the Ballets Russes 100 years ago.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dance Xmas

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Had a slightly dance-themed Xmas. Got tickets for a triple bill at the Royal Opera House (which includes Christopher Wheeldon's Danse A Grande Vitesse - love it) + the Balletboyz DVD Encore (which includes a piece I love, Propeller)

I highly recommend Encore - just what you'd expect from Ballet Boyz: great choreography (Will Tuckett, Liv Lorent, Bonachela...), insightful interviews before each dance piece, and a really interesting 'director's commentary' with the Ballet Boyz talking about the dance being performed.

I also watched "10 years of Riverdance" (it DOES count as dance!), "Mamma Mia!" (which I guess is choreographed so also counts as dance...) and Dance 4 Film on Channel 4 (also called 4dance 2008).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All the dancers in the house...

wish they were in that video.

(Choreography inspired by Bob Fosse's work, no less)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Birds can dance

This is from the New York Times Magazine Year in Ideas 2008.


If you aren’t one of the millions who have already done so, go immediately to YouTube and search for “Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo.” There you will see a large white bird balanced on the back of an office chair, bobbing his head, stomping his feet and doing something that — until now — scientists believed impossible: dancing just like a human.

This is good fun. It’s also good science: Snowball’s videos are changing the way researchers understand the neurology of music and dancing. Aniruddh Patel, senior fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in California, got the link from a friend. He saw not just a funny bird but also a potential solution to a scientific argument dating back to Darwin: some researchers say that human brains have been specially wired by natural selection for dancing, because dancing confers survival benefits through group bonding. If that were true, according to Patel, you would see dancing only in animals that, like humans, have a long history of music and dance, which no other species has. The fact that only humans dance has long been seen as evidence supporting the evolution argument.

So Patel sent an e-mail message to Snowball’s owner, Irena Schulz, and asked to study her bird. “The obvious question was whether he was just mimicking somebody,” Patel said. To answer that, he made CDs of Snowball’s favorite song (“Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys) at various speeds. Schulz videotaped Snowball dancing to each version, and then Patel graphed Snowball’s movement against the music’s beat. “Like a child, he synched to the music for stretches of time, then danced a little faster or a little slower, but always in a rhythmic way,” Patel says. “Statistically those periods when he’s locked onto the beat are not by chance — they really do indicate sensitivity to the beat and an ability to synchronize with it.”

What’s most interesting to Patel is that this ability is present in birds but not in primates, our closest animal relatives. “This is no coincidence,” he says. Patel says dancing is associated with our vocal abilities, not musical hard wiring. Humans and parrots are two of the few species with brains wired for vocal learning — hearing sounds (like words), then coordinating complex movements (lips, tongues, vocal cords) to reproduce those sounds. Other animals who have this ability: dolphins, seals and whales. “In theory,” he says, “they may be able to dance, too. We just don’t know it yet.”

Friday, December 05, 2008

50 years of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

The special gala celebrating 50 years of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre sounded like it was a great night, if you read the NY Times review of it.

They also have a short video about Alvin Ailey. Check it out.

Below a piece from his most well-known work, Revelations.